Illustration by: Aixa Perez-Prado
More Than One Way to Fight For Diverse Representation in Kidlit
Demands for diverse representation in Kidlit have grown louder in recent years with the help of organizations like the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival and individuals alike that have taken to different methods to amplify this critical need. Why? Because all children deserve to find representation in books and it’s equally as important for kids to observe the world through diverse perspectives.
How It Started
The teachers, families, students, and creators fighting the good fight against book banning, educational oppression, and the inadequacy of diversity in children’s titles are best armed with resources, one of the founding bases that spearheaded the creation of the online Latinx Kidlit Book Festival (LKBF).
LKBF was created in 2020 during the COVID pandemic by members of Las Musas Books (founders Alexandra Villasante, Ismee Williams, and Mayra Cuevas). Their aim was to connect Latinx authors and illustrators with readers and educators in classrooms around the globe. It was a response to the disparaging lack of access kids had to books by Latinx creators and the inequities in Kidlit that became even more obvious when the world went virtual.
Three years later, the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival has grown in its offerings and programming. Affording educators across the country opportunities to bring authors and illustrators to their schools; gifting free sets of books to classrooms and libraries; and providing a free virtual festival each year during Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month, streamable from YouTube with flexible and engaging segments for kids of all ages.
On the festival’s website, teachers and librarians can find helpful resources like educator guides, 5-Minute craft videos, and a brand new book database set to launch tomorrow, June 15!
This new public database supplies all Kidlit lovers looking for stories from Latinx creators to add to their libraries. The LKBF Book Database offers the ability to sort by age category, genre, and more, making it easier for teachers and librarians to find books for their favorite bookworms from picture books to young adult novels. While this database will serve educators with valuable information to help curate their bookshelves, it can also serve as an eye opener for publishing insiders as to the gaps that still exist within Latinx kidlit stories.
At a birds-eye view, the LKBF has the appearance of a hub where all who long for equitable Latinx representation in children’s books can come together to make change happen. Authors that refuse to quiet their stories, illustrators that paint Latinx truths, teachers and librarians that incorporate the festival into their agendas so that their students have exposure to diverse works of art, and families in search of Latinx Kidlit content for their children; all help to shape LKBF as it continues to grow and bring to bear their mission to foster a love of story and literacy as well as increase empathy and conversation among educators, students, and book lovers while uplifting the voices of Latinx kidlit book creators.
Who, What, When, Where, and I’ve Already Laid Out the Why
The 2023 Latinx Kidlit Book Festival can be streamed from YouTube (subscribe here) on four consecutive Fridays: September 22, September 29, October 6, and October 13. Whether watching from a school, library, or home, viewers can meet their favorite Latinx authors and illustrators of picture books, middle-grade and young-adult novels, poetry, comic books, and graphic novels! Past festival participants have included award-winning and fan-favorite middle-grade authors like Alda P. Dobbs, Claribel A. Ortega, Meg Medina, Ernesto Cisneros, Torrey Maldonado, and more!
Join the many classrooms and libraries that have enjoyed this interactive festival and the opportunities it provides children of all ages such as the possibility to win a free class set (30) of books when a student’s question is selected for use during the program (more on that here).
Save the dates, bookworms! And subscribe to their newsletter today because you WILL NOT want to miss all of this year’s programming announcements. 2023 is prepping to be bigger and better than ever!
((If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love this book list blog: Diversity in MG Lit #43 March & April 2023))